Aquaplaning

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Without sufficient tread depth your tyres may not be able to cope properly and you face an increased risk of aquaplaning. Don’t believe us? Take a look at our dramatic demonstration!

Heavy rainfall and extended periods of wet weather can make driving conditions hazardous.

In wet weather, it is essential that your tyres have enough tread depth to remove water from the road’s surface so it can grip the road and stay in control. Typically, a car fitted with good tyres can clear enough water to fill a bucket every 7 seconds.

Without adequate tread depth you face an increased risk of your car aquaplaning, which means you could lose complete control of the vehicle.

In order to demonstrate aquaplaning, we took two identical cars, fitted with identical tyres, but with different tread depth.

Car number 1 had brand new tyres with a deep tread depth.

Car number 2 had identical tyres with a much lower tread depth of 1.6mm (the legal minimum tread depth).

We filled a test track with water to replicate how a normal road could look after a heavy downpour. How the cars coped and performed with the different tyres was stark.

Car number 1 (with the deeper tread depth) was first to take to the track. The driver turned the wheel side to side to test the car’s grip and handling in the wet. The car responded safely and as expected by swerving from side to side.

Car number 2 (with the lower tread depth) took to the track, with the driver performing the same steering test. Despite the wheels moving, the car does not respond to the steering by swerving.

This is because car number 2 is aquaplaning, due to the low tread depth on the tyres.

So why does aquaplaning happen on tyres with a low tread depth?

Without adequate tread depth, the tyres cannot displace the water, and it builds up underneath them. The tyre then lifts from the road and loses direct contact with the road. The driver no longer has control of the car, which is an extremely hazardous situation.

So how can you minimise the risk of aquaplaning?

An easy way to do this is to regularly check the tread of your tyres using a 20p coin.  Place the coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If you cannot see any of the outer rim of the coin, your tyres are above the legal minimum tread depth. If you can see the rim about the tread these could be dangerously low and should be checked by a tyre professional.

When buying new tyres you can also look at their ‘wet’ rating on the label.

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